Described as an initiative to fight global poverty and inequality, Patrick Byrne, founder of Overstock (NASDAQ:OSTK) has formed joint venture with Hernando de Soto – prominent economist who has been deeply engaged in the Blockchain and cryptocurrency sector. The new company, called De Soto, Inc., will combine de Soto’s decades worth experience at the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD) and Medici Ventures’ (a subsidiary of Overstock) Blockchain expertise to build solutions to empower individuals through recognized property ownership.
De Soto is founder and president of the Peru-based Institute for Liberty and Democracy, considered by The Economist to be one of the two most important think tanks in the world. In the last 30 years, de Soto has been designing and implementing legal reforms to empower the poor in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and former Soviet nations through programs that grant access to formal property rights.
“I envision a world in which people with rights to their property and business assets pull themselves—and their communities —out of poverty,” commented de Soto. “About 80 percent of the world’s population is unable to enter into the modern global economy due to lack of visible and standardized property records. Billions of people have resources that cannot easily be transformed into productive capital. Blockchain is a powerful tool to solve these structural issues, which are some of the principal causes of poverty and conflict.”
De Soto, Inc. is in the process of developing a Blockchain-based system using mobile applications and social media integration that is designed to bring to connect the thousands of “disconnected ledgers” that exist at local levels in communities around the world. In doing so, the project seeks to create a global repository on which ownership and transfer can be based. The system aims to promote the interests of people who are currently operating extra-legally, as well as multinational corporations who are trying to cooperate with local owners. The company expects to launch its first pilot program in early 2018.
The founders point to the poor in developing countries who own an estimated $14 trillion in assets that is said to be “dead capital.” In Peru alone (where de Soto is from), untitled real estate assets holds approximately $74 billion in value that Peruvians cannot use to establish creditworthiness or leverage as collateral for loans.
“Working with Hernando de Soto is the honor of my lifetime,” stated Byrne. “Hernando’s work has demonstrated that secure ownership of property is a catalyst that sets into motion the engine of progress, creating enormous wealth in the process. From my first public talks on blockchain I emphasized that blockchain’s application to property could lift billions out of poverty. Hernando and I intend to use blockchain technology to empower and enfranchise the five billion people who live outside formal economies within five years.”
Byrne is a leading champion of Blockchain and cryptocurrencies. He and his company’s are in the process of creating a new digital assets ecosystem. His tZero marketplace will launch an Initial Coin Offering later in December.